We have been able to watch a fair amount of the World Cup of Hockey the last couple of weeks. Since the regular NHL season is still a couple weeks away, why not send out a few thoughts on what has been a reasonably interesting tournament? The finals between EUR and CAN are this week.
- Team Europe – Halak has been excellent, and a hot goalie in a one and done format is all a team needs to advance. We suggest this team has over-acheived, bu the 2-of-3 series against Canada looks like a toss up, with the slight advantage to Europe believe it or not. They could actually win this.
- Team Canada – has been solid as always despite missing players like Benn, Keith and Seguin; each of whom would have been available to them save for injuries. A healthy Carey Price is really something to behold….ask Montreal what life can be like without him…..
- The primary reason EUR and CAN have advanced to the final is that they played in what turned out to be the easier Group. Did you see the effort of Team USA? You didn’t? Well neither did anyone else. What we did see was a few American players get absolutely exposed (especially on defense) by the opposition (even the Czechs). We are making the notes on several of them in advance of our pre-season NHL predictions. Spoiler alert- its not pretty.
- OK – the 23 and Under North American Team may have been the best idea the WCH has ever had (other than having an WCH at all). Raise your hand if you weren’t pulling hard for these guys? Hmm. That looks like everyone, not just us. TNA23 was amazing, fun to watch, and possibly the best team that did not earn a playoff sport in WCH history. They were one goal away in a few permutations (including the head to head loss to Russia) from moving on. And yes, Leafs fans, Matthews looks to be the real deal. Smile. Oh, and did we mention this Gaudreau fellow? Wow. Just wow. He presently doesn’t have a contract to play in the NHL. Just saying.
- The Russians as a group looked reasonably disciplined and physically fit. Even though OV and Tarasenko factored less in the offense that we might have surmised, they found enough secondary scoring to more than compete…..but team NA23 should have beaten them.
- Sweden was sort of a disappointment to us. They were outplayed by team NA23, and eventually lost to Europe in OT. Overall they were 2-2. Sure Karlsson is awesome and the Sedins actually still “have it,” but most everyone else, including King Henrik, appeared to be using the tournament as a pre-NHL-season tune up.